CB Bucknor’s Yankees-Rays strike zone was absolutely brutal
CB Bucknor may owe Aaron Boone a thank you.
While Boone took most of the heat Tuesday during and after Game 2 of the ALDS for the Yankees’ controversial pitching plan — making Deivi Garcia merely an opener and following up with J.A. Happ — Bucknor had a rough night himself.
The home-plate umpire’s erratic strike zone was a source of ire for players and fans alike during the Rays’ 7-5 win over the Yankees, with a few brutal calls standing out on a night when the push for robo-umps was renewed.
Perhaps the lasting image of the night came in the top of the ninth inning as the Yankees tried to mount a comeback, with Pete Fairbanks on the mound and Gleyber Torres at the plate. With a man on first, no outs and a 3-1 count, Fairbanks threw a 100 mph fastball clearly high and outside, which Bucknor called a strike. He heard it from the Yankees dugout, with Brett Gardner leading the way by emphatically holding his hands far apart to show how much the pitch missed the strike zone. Ron Darling also immediately questioned the call on the TBS broadcast, saying, “Man oh man.”
Torres went on to draw a walk anyway, so the call was not amplified, but it was far from the only mishap on a night the Yankees struck out 18 times against the Rays’ tough pitching.
The Yankees aren’t the only ones who have been frustrated with Bucknor. In a 2010 ESPN poll, he was voted the worst umpire in MLB, getting named on 42 percent of the ballots. Bucknor also drew that title in a pair of Sports Illustrated polls in 2003 and 2006.
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